State Lands Commission Vows to Resist President Trump's Executive Order on Offshore Oil Drilling


(Sacramento) - The California State Lands Commission adopted a resolution today opposing the Trump Administration's expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration and production through an "America First" offshore energy policy. The Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over all ungranted tide and submerged lands owned by the state, and of the beds of navigable rivers, streams, lakes, bays, estuaries, inlets, and straits.

"We will resist every effort from President Trump that challenges California's climate leadership, and this Commission is resolved to use every power in its toolbox to ensure that not a drop of oil or gas from new offshore drilling ever makes landfall in California" said Lieutenant Governor and Commission Chair Gavin Newsom. "California, where the economy is growing faster than the rest of the United States, is a testament to the knowledge that economic growth and sustainable policies walk in tandem,"

"While the president is working to reverse decades of climate leadership, the Commission is sending a clear message to Washington - new offshore oil and gas drilling in California waters is a nonstarter," said State Controller and Commissioner Betty T. Yee. "There are simply too many significant environmental, public safety, and financial risks."

On April 28, 2017, the President of the United Stated released an Executive Order that establishes a policy to encourage energy exploration and production on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and restarts the 2017-2022 five-year lease sales program. This program establishes a schedule of oil and gas lease sales, and specifies the size, timing, and location of potential leasing activity that the Secretary of the Interior determines will best meet national energy needs. Including the Pacific OCS in this process revokes hard-fought victories to preserve the environmental and economic integrity of the state, and ignores the value and potential of renewable energy.

Consistent with previous opposition by the State Lands Commission to offshore oil and gas development off California's coast, the Commission's resolution maintains the stance that expanded offshore oil drilling poses an unacceptable risk to the environment and the economy. In December 2016, the Commission adopted a resolution that included directing staff to take necessary action to ensure there is no new federal offshore leasing.

The State Lands Commission has not issued a new offshore oil and gas lease since the 1969 blowout of a well in federal waters, offshore Santa Barbara County, that spilled 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil into the Santa Barbara Channel and onto the beaches of Santa Barbara County, fouling the coastline from Goleta to Ventura and representing the largest oil spill in waters off the California shore.

California's cherished coastal resources, such as whales, salmon, kelp forests, and beaches, are defenseless against the hazards posed by oil extraction, and the state's vibrant coastal economy, which includes tourism, recreation, and fishing, would suffer in the fallout of an incident. Additionally, perpetuating our nation's role as a leading source of carbon emissions will disrupt climate patterns, which will have irrevocable global consequences.

Depending on fossil fuels will also hamper economic growth, as the state's pursuit of clean alternative energy sources has been an important source of investments, jobs, and affordable energy. California is a pioneer in developing innovative technologies and establishing targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy generation. The state's leadership in proving the feasibility of renewable energy as a reliable future energy source is incompatible with any policy that ties our energy sector to the unsustainable fossil fuels of the past.